CIA Lost a Fortune on Failed Terror Traps

Bogus firms failed to provide effective cover for overseas spies
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Feb 17, 2008 10:56 AM CST
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has been sharply critical of the CIA's failed efforts to establish effective spy efforts abroad. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – CIA officials lost a bundle after 9/11 setting up fake businesses to ensnare suspected terrorists in a strategy it now concedes was ill-conceived, reports the Los Angeles Times. The agency spent hundreds of millions of dollars to establish 12 enterprises in Europe and elsewhere to provide a convincing cover for spies. All but two have been shut down.

The plan failed largely because the enterprises were far from Muslim enclaves, and the spies had little justification for coming into contact with suspected al-Qaeda operatives. "How does a businessman contact a terrorist?" asked a former CIA official. "If you're out there selling widgets, why are you walking around a mosque in Hamburg?" The operations were "built on the theory of the Field of Dreams—build them and the targets will come," said another.